It sounds like a page from Economics 101. If a company needs workers, but other companies are pirating the best and brightest, that first company needs to sweeten the pot and make itself more attractive.
Right now, Utah needs teachers. Badly. According to the Governor's Education Summit, 21 out of 39 school districts are down teachers. That's 25 percent more than last year. Fewer college graduates in the state are going into teaching. Fewer ethnic minorities are embracing the career. And more teachers are moving into the private sector or just simply moving.
So what can be done?
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., has his priorities straight there. His top goal next year is to increase teacher pay in order to beef up the quality of education in Utah.
But that's just the beginning.
Utahns who come from "teacher families" know that the occupation is really a vocation. Truly good teachers feel an inner calling to help young people learn. In the past, many have lived on low wages because they felt they had embraced a noble idea. But over the years, the nobility of the profession has been eroded. Many parents no longer see teachers as authority figures who need to be supported. They battle teachers as often as they help. And students have changed. From yesterday's behavior problems that entailed gum chewing in class and chatting, the hassles a teacher must wrestle with today include drugs, abuse, firearms, violence and vandalism. It has been said many teachers simply baby-sit their pupils. But today's teachers often have more in common with police officers than baby-sitters. The constant barrage of rhetoric about "second rate" schools in Utah, the incidents of sexual misconduct by teachers and the constant press of demands by state lawmakers and others take a toll.
Teachers need more money. That goes without saying.
But more than that, they need to know that people support them, that they are not going it alone in a hostile work environment.
Support Utah teachers financially.
But beyond than, if the state wants more quality instructors, Utahns must support them emotionally, psychologically, culturally and politically.